• Good News for Builders and Developers!
  • August 29, 2012 | Author: Caroline M. Hoffer
  • Law Firm: Barley Snyder - Lancaster Office
  • In July of 2010, then Governor Ed Rendell signed into law Act 46 of 2010 (the Permit Extension Act) which extended the expiration date of certain state and local building and land use permits and approvals until July 2, 2013. This directly benefitted owners, developers and contractors whose real estate projects had not proceeded on schedule due to the sudden downturn in the real estate market and whose permits expired beginning on January 1, 2009 or who were at risk of having the permits and approvals expire on or after that date.

    The Permit Extension Act was recently amended to extend the expiration date of the identified permits and approvals for an additional three years, until July 2, 2016. Governor Tom Corbett signed into law Act 87 of 2012 on July 2, 2012 which included this amendment to the Permit Extension Act. This recent amendment provides further relief to builders and developers who have delayed proceeding on their projects until the real estate market recovers.

    There has been considerable controversy over the issue of whether the Permit Extension Act was intended to be interpreted as (i) an extension of the permits and approvals to July 1, 2013, which would mean that all permits and approvals that would have expired during this extension period would expire on July 2, 2013 (now 2016) , or (ii) a “tolling “ period, which would mean that the time period remaining on the permit stopped running on December 31, 2008, and would begin to run again on July 2, 2013(now 2016) . There has been one case on this issue, in Lancaster County, that held that the Permit Extension Act “tolls” the expiration of a permit during the extension period. Accordingly, the time remaining on the permit at issue in the case was deemed to be tacked on after July 1, 2013. This decision was not appealed, and to date, this issue has not been before the Commonwealth Court or the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

    The Lancaster County Court decision may not be followed by all municipalities or state agencies. To determine the municipal or state agency position on the expiration of a specific permit or approval, it is possible to request a confirmation of the expiration date. The extension provided by the Permit Extension Act is automatic and no confirmation of the extension of the permit or approval is required, however, one may request verification of the permit or approval and the new expiration date from the issuing municipality or agency. The issuing municipality or agency must respond within 30 days or face a deemed affirmation of the approval and the new expiration date included in the written request.

    Remember to thank your legislators for extending the Permit Extension Act benefits to July 1, 2016!